Ex-FTX Europe Exec Purchases Titanic Gold Watch for $1.5M: Report

A former executive of the European arm of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX has bought a gold pocket watch recovered from the Titanic wreck for £1.175 million ($1.5 million), the largest sum ever spent on any piece from the memorable incident.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, German fintech entrepreneur and former head of FTX Europe Patrick Gruhn bought the 14-karat gold watch last Saturday from the English auction house Henry Aldridge & Son, a leading seller of Titanic memorabilia.

Former FTX Exec Buys Titanic Gold Watch

The pocket watch belonged to American property mogul John Jacob Astor IV, who sank with the ship after his pregnant wife, Madeleine Astor, was rescued in a lifeboat. Astor, the richest passenger aboard the Titanic, was returning from a honeymoon in Europe with his wife when tragedy struck in 1912.

Astor’s body was found a week after the Titanic sank by a steam vessel’s crew. The items found on his body included a gold watch, a gold pencil, a diamond ring, a gold buckled belt, and gold cufflinks. Astor’s son, Vincent, kept the watch for a while before giving it to the son of his late father’s secretary, whose family eventually sold it to John Miottel, a private collector, in the 1990s.

Miottel’s collection auctioned the watch last week, and Gruhn bought it for his wife, Maren Gruhn, revealing they would display the item, engraved with Astor’s initials, in U.S. museums.

“We want people in the U.S. to be able to see and admire this historic relic,” said the former FTX executive.

Gruhn further revealed that he felt connected to Astor because their families left Germany for the U.S. in search of wealth.

FTX Dropped Lawsuit Against Gruhn

Gruhn spearheaded FTX’s European arm until the global entity went bankrupt in November 2022. CryptoPotato reported a few months before FTX’s implosion that Gruhn and the disgraced founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) were working towards establishing a regional headquarters for the exchange in Dubai.

Following the exchange’s collapse, the firm’s bankruptcy estate filed a lawsuit against Gruhn and other former executives to recover $323 million SBF spent in acquiring the Swiss company that became FTX Europe on the basis that the founder overpaid. However, the case was dropped in February, with the former executives agreeing to buy back the European assets for roughly $33 million.

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